Israeli Couscous Salad with Cucumbers + Lemony Dressing

31 Jul

This is going to make me sound crazy but….that’s nothing new around here  The one thing I miss about working downtown is the plethora of coffee places, delis, and restaurants that were available to me at my every whim.  SPECIFICALLY, the delicious little pre-packaged cold salads I used to get at Crazy Mocha in Market Square.  Ridiculous, I know.  With the dreadful humidity we had last week, I was craving a cold salad ever more so luckily I found this unassuming recipe tucked away in one of my Pinterest boards.

It’s not the most aesthetically pleasing.  It’s not all that difficult to make.  It doesn’t call for any mysterious specialized ingredients.  BUT…this salad is so packed full of flavor I won’t ever miss Market Square Crazy Mocha again!  The combination of lemon, feta, and cucumbers is absolutely incredible and you will be seeing this again and again in my regular rotation.  I had prepared this recipe as a side to take for lunches this week, but I ended up eating a portion of it for dinner by itself.  I FULLY intend to bring this to the next picnic I attend, don’t you just love a variety of cold salads?!

Lemony-Cucumber-Israeli-Couscous-Salad


You should have a few cops of Israeli couscous prepared for this recipe prior to beginning!  First, remove the leaves from 1/4 of a bunch of parsley and roughly chop.  Also, prepare a large seedless cucumber by cutting it into discs, then cutting the discs into 4 pieces.  Add in the zest of 1 medium lemon.

Israeli-Couscous-Salad2

At this point, I made a lemon vinegarette with the juice of my medium lemon, some extra virgin olive oil, salt, garlic powder, and pepper.  I poured it over the cucumber mixture and tossed it lightly, then added 3 oz. of feta cheese and 2 cups of the cooked Israeli couscous.

Israeli-Couscous-Salad-1

Mix it all up, refrigerate and enjoy!

Bazinga Pops FTW

29 Jul

All summer long I’ve been complaining mentioning how badly I want to make my own popsicles.  I FINALLY found a mold that I liked enough to try, so I ordered it from Bed, Bath, and Beyond (all thoughts and opinions are my own!)  Skip ahead for the honey-roasted blueberry pop recipe if you want to, but here are my thoughts on the Zoku Classic Pop Molds:

Zoku-Classic-Pop-Molds-Packaging


Overall, I was very pleased with the quality of the product, which is BPA and phathalate-free.  I found it very easy to assemble and the pieces clicked together snugly.  They were just as easy to pop apart, which means that they fit nicely into the silverware compartment of my dishwasher.

Zoku-Classic-Pop-Molds-Pieces

I love how securely everything is sealed together, especially since I will probably be making a lot of greek yogurt-based pops.  It just gives me piece of mind that my pops will be protected from ice crystallization more than a Dixie cup and a wooden popsicle stick.

Zoku-Classic-Pop-Mold-Before

I’ve been recommending them to anyone who will listen!  They have a mini-version of these as well, I may order them in the future.


Honey-Roasted Blueberry Pops (original recipe by Cookie + Kate)

  • 1 pint blueberries
  • 2 c. Greek yogurt
  • 2 T. honey + 1/4 c. honey
  • 2 t. granulated sugar
  • pinch of salt
  • juice of 1/2 lemon

Honey-Roasted-Blueberries1

Gently mix together the blueberries, sugar, salt, and 2 T. of honey.  Then spread them into a single layer sheet pan.

Roasting-Blueberries-Before

Roast the blueberries for 15 minutes at 350*F, then stir and roast another 15 minutes.  Watch these very carefully towards the end as the syrup released from the berries may start to burn.  Remove the berries from the oven and allow them to cool for at least 10 minutes.

Roasted-Blueberries-Done

Meanwhile, stir together the Greek Yogurt, lemon juice, and additional honey to taste.

Honey-Lemon-Greek-Yogurt-Mixture

When the berries have cooled completely, scrape the blueberries and syrup into the mixture.  You can stir more or less, depending on how marbleized of a look you want.

Roasted-Blueberries-Greek-Yogurt

I grabbed a few berries from an extra pint I had in the fridge and put them into the bottom of each mold.

Roasted-Blueberry-Pops-1

I filled each mold up to the “Fill Line,” some more than others:

Pops-In-Zoku-Mold-Before

When I added the sticks in, I was pleasantly surprised that the drip guards clicked into place without causing any of the pops to overflow! And into the freezer they went, for about 12 hours.

Pop-Molds-In-Freezer

When I was ready to try them, I just popped out the whole pop, ran it under some warm tap water and the pop slid right out of the case.

This is the level of BAZINGA that happened in my brain when I tasted them:

Honey-Roasted-Blueberry-Pop


We are talking full-on Big Lebowski dream sequence, if I closed my eyes I swear I could’ve been wearing a viking outfit level of amazing.

Arugula + Black Bean Stuffed Sweet Potato w/ Poached Egg

28 Jul

This recipe is so simple it feels wrong to toot my own horn, but that’s my very first poached egg you guys.  Ever.  I feel like I should get a foodie gold star right now!  Poached egg dance!  Poached egg dance!  Poached egg dance!  (PS – IDGAF if you think eggs are meat.  I consider this a meatless recipe, so put it in your Meatless Monday rolodex, yo.)

Stuffed-Sweet-Potato-Black-Beans-Arugula-Poached-Egg


Arugula & Black Bean Stuffed Sweet Potato w/ Poached Egg (from How Sweet It Is)

  • sweet potato
  • arugula
  • black beans, drained and rinsed
  • shredded cheese
  • 1 lg egg
  • olive oil, salt, pepper

First, cook the sweet potato using your method of choice (microwave, slow-cooker, oven, etc.).  Since I don’t care for the skin, I usually bake mine in a 400*F oven for about an hour, remove the skin and put the potato in a small dish.  You do you, though.  While the potato is cooking, I suggest tossing some arugula in extra virgin olive oil, salt, and pepper:

arugula-olive-oil-salt-pepper

Then, a great idea is to start fretting about cooking a poached egg.  This includes, scouring Pinterest, rapid-firing search terms into Google, calling your mom and cursing her for not answering, and then finally realizing you have 13 eggs in the house so just friggin’ throw one in some water all ready.  But not really throw!  Because you have to be careful with eggs, you know.  Anyway, I did what I was told and followed Smitten Kitchen’s tutorial for the perfect poached eggs. As I waited for my water to boil, I topped my sweet potato with some cheddar cheese, about 1/2 c. of black beans which had been rinsed but were unseasoned, and my arugula.

Stuffed-Sweet-Potato-Arugula

This was probably the most nerve-wracking thing I’ve ever done right here!

1st-ever-poached-egg

Having absolutely no frame of reference for if something is done or not really creates anxiety when you could ruin your whole dinner with one little poke.  But then….

Stuffed-Sweet-Potato-2

With great risk, comes great reward.

Friday Five: Goals

25 Jul

This week’s Friday Five linkup (an awesome weekly event hosted by Courtney @ Eat Pray Run DC, Mar @ Mar On The Run, and Cynthia @ You Signed Up For What!) is themed: Goals!  One of my favorite things to talk about since I’m endless making new goals for myself!!  I find that being goal-oriented is one of the only things that keeps me focused at getting things done.  I’ve always expressed my goals here, and mid-summer is a fab time to check in on their progress.

Friday-Five-Goals-7-25-14

1. Pittsburgh’s Great Race 10K – Last summer, I struggled with running.  I set lofty goals for myself and then sabotaged myself when I couldn’t handle the pressure.  I registered last year and talked a big game about how I was going to run in September.  Then, in one of the most disappointing moments I’ve ever had in myself, I sold my bib the weekend of the race because I just wasn’t able to run that far.  Not this year.  This year, I’ve kept my eye on the prize and I’ve all ready got my 6.1 mile leg of the Pittsburgh Marathon under my belt.  I’ve been more realistic with my training schedule, I’ve been more focused on nutrition, and I generally feel like I’m in a better place mentally with running.  The race is 10 weeks out and I feel like I’m right on track!

2.  Lucky # 12 – This is a goal I’ve really struggled with over the years because I’ve generally been a very lazy person.  BUT!  This summer I’ve finally pushed past my plateau and I think I may actually reach my goal.  By the end of the summer, I hope to be down to 175 lbs.  I’m only 12 lbs. away from hitting that milestone (a milestone which I haven’t seen since probably high school!) and I’m feeling pretty confident that I can crush that goal, too.

At my heaviest vs. last weekend!

At my heaviest vs. last weekend!

3.  4 Week Challenge Group – This one isn’t quite as serious as the other 2, but committing to a 4 week challenge group where you are asked to participate daily is kind of a big commitment.  The group happens in a secret Facebook page and I’ve found it to be incredibly helpful.  I’m getting tons of ideas and support from the other members, which is the reason I joined.  There have been MANY days in which I would’ve let the lazy get the better of me, but seeing the “sweaty” pics the other members posts pushes me to be active.  The challenge is over the first week of August, and I’m honestly going to miss it!

4.  Service – Back in April, I made a commitment to volunteer more.  And by more I mean period, at all.  The beginning of the summer sent my personal life into a bit of a tailspin, so unfortunately this goal got pushed to the back burner for a few months.  Through this awesome gal, I learned about this awesome program through the Animal Rescue League where runners volunteer to jog with the shelter dogs.  What an incredibly mutually beneficial program for everyone involved – the shelter dogs get personal human interaction, physical time in the great outdoors, and valuable social skills.  The shelter gets free man power and I get to be active while making a difference.  I mean how great is that?

5.  Pittsburgh Half Marathon – I basically started running so that I could run this race.  No pressure or anything.  It has been my goal race for years.  YEARS. YEARS!!!!!!!!!  2015 is about to be my year, I just know it.  I’m crazy superstitious about stuff, and I’m obsessed with the idea of running 13.1 miles for the 1st time the year I turn 31.  TRY AND TELL ME THAT’S NOT A SIGN….

girrrrrrl


I hope you enjoyed this Friday Five linkup, I had fun writing it and I can’t wait to participate in more of them!!

Wordless Wednesday

23 Jul

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